Review: 'Terminator: Genisys' squeezes the last bit of life from the franchise
Credit: Paramount Pictures

Review: 'Terminator: Genisys' squeezes the last bit of life from the franchise

HitFix
D
Readers
n/a
All that's left now is accidental self-parody and empty spectacle

"Goddamn time-traveling robots."

Precisely, JK Simmons. Precisely.

Yes, I am aware that James Cameron's name is all over the commercials for "Terminator: Genisys" right now, and yes, i am aware that both of the writers on the film (Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier) are people I dig whose work I like a lot. And while I'm even willing to concede that this is probably better than either "Terminator: Rise Of The Machines" or "Terminator Salvation," that is such a low bar that I'm not sure I'd consider it a compliment.

From moment to moment, "Terminator: Genisys" is decently produced, and there are a few beats here and there that are clever or decently staged. But taken as a whole, "Terminator: Genisys" is representative of the worst of franchise filmmaking, and as someone who fell in love with the original "Terminator" in a theater in 1984, it sickens me. I had a palpable reaction of disgust tonight, one that I masked until I dropped off my kids.

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This year's documentaries make the case for movies that save your life

This year's documentaries make the case for movies that save your life

We look at the role movies play in the unusual lives of some recent documentary stars

I don't believe that they are "just" movies.

I mean, sure, there are plenty of movies that I would consider inconsequential, and many of those are even movies that I like. But the entire culture of films, the idea of these shared narratives that make up something that unites people from around the world, is something that I think people dismiss too easily sometimes. Films are transformative. Films can force you to see things in a new ways. They can build or destroy communities. They can be powerful forces for social change, and they can shine a spotlight on things in a  way that is undeniable and immediate.

And, in their best moments, they can save lives.

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Why do we binge some TV shows and not others?
Credit: Netflix

Why do we binge some TV shows and not others?

Why did 'Orange Is The New Black' get seen before 'Sense8'?

There are few things this year that I have anticipated more than "Sense8," the new Netflix series by J. Michael Straczynski and the Wachowskis. Meanwhile, at the start of this year, I still hadn't seen a single episode of "Orange Is The New Black."

So why is it that I burned through season three of Jenji Kohan's prison series, and I have the entire run of "Sense8," minus the first episode, still sitting there in my Netflix queue waiting for the exact right moment?

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Mark Wahlberg versus Mark Wahlberg: A tale of two actors
Credit: Universal Pictures

Mark Wahlberg versus Mark Wahlberg: A tale of two actors

Why do some directors get this particular actor so wrong?

How many Mark Wahlbergs are there?

I ask because I like the guy who showed up in this week's "Ted 2." I like goofball Mark Wahlberg. I like belligerent Boston Mark Wahlberg. I like dancing silly Mark Wahlberg. I like dim bulb but well-meaning Mark Wahlberg.

I do not, however, care for "I'm smarter than I look" Mark Wahlberg. I do not like humorless Mark Wahlberg. I do not particularly care for serious action mode Mark Wahlberg. And when I look at the ones I don't like side-by-side with the ones I like, I find it hard to reconcile that this is all one person.

So again… I ask… how many Mark Wahlbergs are there?

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Kevin Feige addresses Edgar Wright, Paul Rudd and more on 'Ant-Man' set
Credit: Marvel Studios

Kevin Feige addresses Edgar Wright, Paul Rudd and more on 'Ant-Man' set

Is Peyton Reed helping to usher in Marvel's glorious Age Of Weird?

Marvel is serious about Atlanta's brand-new Pinewood Studios, and "Ant-Man" was the way they broke in what may well be their home for the next decade or more.

Late last year, I was part of a group of journalists who were flown to Atlanta to tour the new facility, which is surprisingly huge, and to see a few days worth of shooting on what was at that point perhaps the most publicly troubled movie since Marvel kicked off this universe with "Iron Man." After all, Edgar Wright had dropped out of the film just before it began production, and the process of wrangling a new script and a new director was written about with widespread panic and scorn and skepticism. You will find few more stalwart fans of what Edgar Wright does than me, but in the end, I feel like he's a filmmaker who will always be at his happiest when he is working on either his own original material or an adaptation that he is given free reign to make his own.

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Nobody's done it better than 'Nobody Does it Better' when it comes to James Bond
Credit: MGM/UA Home Video

Nobody's done it better than 'Nobody Does it Better' when it comes to James Bond

We discuss the tradition of the Bond theme and why the 1977 model is the best

Songs On Screen: All week HitFix will be featuring tributes by writers to their favorite musical moments from TV and film. Check out all the entries in the series here

There are very few constants in the world of pop culture.

James Bond, however, appears to be eternal. It's more than a movie franchise at this point. It's a generational milestone that gets handed down. My dad took me to my first Bond movie. I'll take my sons to their first Bond movie. And I have no doubt that 20 years from now, there will be a new James Bond and my kids will be able to take their own kids to enjoy it.

I am equally sure that whatever Bond film they go see will open with a song written by a hot recording artist, and that song will be on the charts while the film's in theaters, and we'll probably even get some cover versions of it some time after that. If there is anything that has been true of the series almost from the start, it has been that the theme song is one of the most compelling and interesting parts of any Bond movie, particularly when paired with a title sequence either by or inspired by Maurice Binder.

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Review: 'Ted 2' suffers from comedy sequelitis and overreaches to lesser impact
Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: 'Ted 2' suffers from comedy sequelitis and overreaches to lesser impact

HitFix
C+
Readers
n/a
Seth MacFarlane's easy to dismiss, but he's coasting enough that he deserves some criticism

The first "Ted" was a pivotal moment for Seth MacFarlane. It was his first live-action project, and it was a chance to see if he could successfully launch a whole new empire, one that stood separate from "Family Guy." While I didn't love "Ted," I thought it was a solid step for MacFarlane as a filmmaker. His second live-action film, "A Million Ways To Die In The West"? Less so.

I'm already ambivalent about MacFarlane, so adding the extra pressure of my belief that comedy sequels are almost uniformly unsuccessful, and I didn't have very high hopes for "Ted 2" at all. I can report that it is pretty much exactly what I thought a "Ted" sequel would be, complete with a larger canvass and diminishing returns on some of the laughs. Like most comedy sequels, it is too long and too indulgent in calling back to the original film. There are several scenes in the film that got me to laugh, but there are plenty of scenes that simply follow a mechanical formula that is enormously familiar to anyone familiar with his work with co-writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. If MacFarlane is anything, he is the master of the Strange Little Thing That Behaves Inappropriately.

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Marvel and Sony find Tom Holland, their new Spider-Man, and a director as well
Credit: Universal Pictures

Marvel and Sony find Tom Holland, their new Spider-Man, and a director as well

And with Jon Watts directing the first Spider-Man movie, what should fans expect?

Born in 1996, eh?

I'll give them this… Sony and Marvel took their time, they did the hard work, and they made a careful and considered decision here that they're going to hopefully be happy with for many years to come.

They better be, because Tom Holland is their new Spider-Man, and if they've ever truly gambled as a studio with this particular property, now is the moment.

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Why Universal's 'Minions' are the perfect 21st century movie stars
Credit: Universal

Why Universal's 'Minions' are the perfect 21st century movie stars

We'll see a lot more of these little yellow weirdos

Next week, I'm taking my kids to see the press screening of "Minions," and the next day, we're going to Universal to check out the new "Fast & Furious" ride as well as the other major additions to the park, including their new emphasis on the Minions from "Despicable Me."

I'm not remotely surprised by the way the Minions have taken root in pop culture. When they were in production on the original "Despicable Me," a group of us went to the Illumination Entertainment offices to see some footage and talk about what the film was going to be, and my big takeaway that day was "No matter what, kids will love the Minions."

When the film opens and absolutely destroys at the box-office worldwide, I'm sure there will be box-office pundits who count it as some sort of surprise, but it won't be. Not really. And considering we are now in what I would consider a post-Movie Star era in Hollywood, the Minions make even more sense.

In fact, I'd argue that the Minions are the perfect movie stars for the 21st century.

There are several reasons this is true. First and foremost, they are almost entirely non-verbal, and with international box-office more important than ever to the overall success story of a movie, that's more important than ever. The Minions make noise, sure, but it's unimportant in all but the broadest sense. Everything is conveyed visually, and any audience anywhere, no matter how unsophisticated, is going to be able to get something out of what they watch.

Even more importantly, they aren't real. They can't renegotiate their contracts based on the success of the series. And while I can tell you who wrote and/or directed the movies, most people can't. It is a case where the characters are bigger than any single offering with them. The studio figured out that these things push some button in the audience, and they steered directly into it.

There's a reason Universal just smashed the landspeed record for making it to a billion dollars at the international box-office. They have become very shrewd about managing the properties they already own, and Donna Langley deserves credit for the way both the "Fast and Furious" and "Jurassic World" series are growing this late in the series, instead of shrinking. That's amazing, just from a business perspective, and spinning the Minions off so they can anchor their own series is another move that I bet will pay off in a major way for them.

While there are certainly still plenty of famous actors of all types, I think the age of the giant monolithic movie star is over. It is more about the brand name than who i starring than ever before, and Universal has perfected a model here that we'll see more and more studios embracing in the near-future.

"Minions" is in theaters July 10th.

 

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Is 'A Deadly Adoption' the year's most straight-faced prank?
Credit: Lifetime Networks

Is 'A Deadly Adoption' the year's most straight-faced prank?

Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig pull off a fairly awesome but insane joke

Most of the reactions I saw roll by in my social media timelines this weekend to the film "A Deadly Adoption" were along the lines of, "What the hell did I just watch?"

I can understand the confusion. And it's awesome.

"A Deadly Adoption" aired Saturday on Lifetime, and it is, by any metric you want to use, a completely typical Lifetime movie. What makes it stand out is that the film stars Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig, and there's nothing about the film at any point that would tip that this is meant as a joke. The film opens with a party being thrown by Robert (Ferrell) and his wife Sarah (Wiig), during which Robert casually remarks about how they're going to have to fix the dock soon, just about the time Sarah walks down to stand on the dock no matter what Robert says. She's six months pregnant, but that's over and done with when the dock collapses and she almost drowns.

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